The Cashew Export Promotion Council of India, CEPCI has expressed serious concern over growing illegal import of cashew kernels and said that this has hit the crisis-ridden domestic industry.
The CEPCI indicated that large scale imports of substandard/low-quality plain cashew kernels from rival countries like Mozambique, Ivory Coast and Vietnam is the reason for closure of a number of cashew factories that gives profitable employment to over 10 lakh workers, majority of whom are women.
According to Chairman of CEPCI Mr. R. K. Bhoodes, plain cashew kernels that falls under chapter 8 of the customs tariff is imposed a basic customs duty of 45 %. In addition, the minimum import prices of RS. 288 per kg for broken grades and Rs. 400per kg for whole cashew are set and 45% of the same is charged as the basic customs duty for imports.
But, roasted cashew kernels & further value-added cashew products that come under chapter 20 of the customs duty under different Free Trade Agreements have been completely exempted from payment of basic customs duty. Bhoodes pointed out that misusing these provisions, many importers ship large volumes of plain cashew kernels (mostly brokens), which are low-grade in quality in comparison with Indian products. As these countries do not have a domestic market, they sell it in the Indian market at throw-away rates.
As such low-quality & low-cost broken kernels are disposed of in the domestic market escaping customs duty, the real processors are finding difficulties in selling their products. This has not only affected prices in the domestic market but also made domestic processing unviable.
Moreover, re-exporting of substandard whole kernels of other nations with Indian label has blemished the brand of Indian kernels. Exports of imported unpeeled cashew kernels can also avail of 5 % export incentive as relevant to fully processed cashew in India. Bhoodes said, “This is a big blow to the CEPCI’s efforts to endorse Indian cashew as a brand”.
CEPCI also sought that the import of cashew kernels that includes 12 categories of mis-declarations must be subject to 100% inspection by the Customs for sampling & testing. Dishonest importers must be blacklisted & Cofeposa should be invoked against frequent importers.